What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome & Strategies To Overcome It

by pgh

Dry drunk syndrome describes a recovering alcoholic who isn’t currently drinking or abusing drugs, but who has already relapsed on an emotional level.

Symptoms & Behavior

A dry alcoholic will show signs of discontent, irritability, and restlessness. Other dry drunk symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and even depression. A dry drunk’s behavior will often start to look similar to the type of behavior they exhibited when they were drinking.

While the dry drunk hasn’t picked up a drink yet, they’re no longer motivated to focus on recovery. Dry drunk syndrome is usually triggered by some sort of emotional upheaval or setback in the person’s life. It could be a triggered by a sudden event, or brought on by a slow gradual descent.

Once someone in recovery gets into this state of mind, its only a matter of time until they relapse – unless they take action to turn around their mindset.

Strategies For Overcoming It

1. Become More Self-Aware

A big part of overcoming dry drunk syndrome is becoming more in tune with your own emotional state. Dry drunk syndrome can creep up on anyone for any number of reasons – the key is to recognize it in ourselves before we start sliding down the wrong path.

Becoming more self-aware is a conscious choice. Take time out of your day for reflection, and get used to monitoring your emotional state. When you get angry, frustrated, or irritable, stop and take a moment to analyze your emotions and why you feel the way you do. Over time, you’ll train yourself to recognize different emotional states, and how they can influence your behavior.

2. Having A Support Network

While you should never rely on other people for your own sobriety, having a support network of other people in recovery to talk to can help you fight off impending relapse. It can be a sponsor like in AA, or just anyone who you consider a friend.

The other benefit of having a strong support network, is that it tends to give you more emotional stability. And the more emotionally stable you are, the less likely you are to put feel a need to self-medicate through substance abuse.

Take Pro-Active Steps To Turn Around Your Emotional State

If you find yourself feeling emotionally unbalanced (irritable, restless, or feeling hopeless), you need to take immediate action in order to prevent relapse. If you simply do nothing, its only a matter of time until you start hitting the bottle. Taking action is the key.

But what kind of action will help you overcome dry drunk syndrome? The dry drunk state of mind festers when you don’t have avenues to pursue personal growth. If you suffer setbacks in certain areas of your life, you need other channels to pursue so that you can drive your energy towards personal growth. Without those channels, small setbacks will cause you to relapse emotionally, and eventually, that emotional relapse will turn into a drinking binge.

Think of each avenue of personal growth as a safety net. If all you have in your life is a job or a relationship, then if you lose your job or you breakup, you’ll quickly end up in a dry drunk state of mind. And without other avenues of personal growth in place to stabilize you, you’ll quickly turn to the bottle.

On the other hand, if you’ve been consciously pursuing multiple avenues of growth – for example:

  • Working on advancing your career
  • Nurturing positive relationships
  • Participating in new hobbies
  • Meditating
  • Pushing yourself physically
  • Learning new skills

Then you can address a setback in one area of your life by focusing your energy on other avenues of growth. Even though you may temporarily slip into a dry drunk state, you can quickly take action and pull yourself out of your emotional slump.

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